Social Media Research

Do Contests Work on Twitter?

Social Media MagicI did some research on Twitter contests by pulling the most engaging tweets from Twitter accounts for more than 12,000 companies for the month of January. There was a lot to learn from these tweets: Fashion is big. Sports & music can really get people going.

But the #1 way to get engagement on Twitter was a simple “Follow and Tweet to Win” contest.

I looked at the top 100 tweets based on engagement rate.

71% of these top engaging tweets were contests of one type or another. (click to tweet)

What is engagement rate, you ask?

At Rival IQ we believe engagement rate as the best way to determine which are the most highly engaging tweets. Engagement rate is sum of RTs and Favorites divided by the number of followers  [ (Retweets+Favorites)/Followers ]. This rate enables you to effectively compare the engagement of tweets from companies with drastically different follower counts.

For this analysis, the companies we looked at had to have at least 5000 followers to be considered as part of the analysis.

What Type of Contests Work on Twitter?

The actual prize that was offered in the contests we studied seemed to vary greatly. They ranged from makeup to office supplies, from fish to football tickets (which were especially popular around the playoffs).

Almost all of the contests required a simple follow and retweet to be entered. A few were looking for a creative answer to a question or completion of a hashtag.

Even the weather can be used as contest fodder, as shown in this creative giveaway from the MeteoGroup in the UK.

The prize could also be something as simple as getting your puppy in front of a big audience. This content from Beggin’ Strips dog treats connects with their followers’ love of their pets while offering them the opportunity to be creative:

Will a Twitter Contest Work for You?

Maybe. I’m not in the contest business, I’m in the social contest competitive intelligence business. But, if 71% of the top brand tweets are related to contests, AND it’s very easy to launch a contest on Twitter, it certainly seems worth trying, right?

Have you ever run a Twitter contest? How did it work for you?

Article Name
Do Contests Work on Twitter?
Research shows that 71% of the top brand tweets on Twitter are contests. Learn whether Twitter contests can work for your business.
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  1. David Chamberlain says

    Scope was to narrow, you were looking for engaging tweets but a conversation can and has trended, the results do not have to be based on a single engaging tweet.

    • John Clark says

      David, sure there are lots of ways to analyze this sort of stuff. I pulled one set of data and was really surprised by the results which is why I shared them. Looking at what conversations trended the most or got the most engagement is another very interesting analysis I’ll try to dig into sometime. Thanks so much for your suggestion.

  2. says

    Interesting read. Always a topic that makes us feel ‘shall we do it’ or ‘shall we keep away from a competition.’ From doing these for my business and this is only a personal opinion, competitions have nothing to do with building an audience, but just someone wanting to win a prize.

    Success should never be highlighted by collecting numbers via a ‘follow and tweet’ route, the only engagement I found was to win a prize, not to carry on with something more substantial.

    • John Clark says

      Mark, yes a great observation. Clearly the result of new efforts should be “does this help me achieve my goal”. In this case as I mentioned being no expert in contests I can’t tell how many RT/follow type contest generate valuable followers and exposure vs. only contest participants. One probably could ask that of any contest online or offline though too. An important part of doing something like this but would be to measure actual conversion goals like new subscriptions, customers or other key metric.

  3. Faisal Ali Khan says

    Indeed an interesting read! However, I think engagement score is missing one major component of a tweet; i.e – “Favorite” ideally it should be {retweets + mentions (both native RT & Manual RT)+ favorite divided by the number of followers} the account holds?

    • John Clark says

      A fair point, just not part of the analysis I did in this case. What you suggest is most accurate but to get a relative sense of engagement my guess is how I approached it gets close. Thanks for the clarification.

  4. Faisal Ali Khan says

    Indeed an interesting read! Needed one clarification on the engagement score; when you say “retweets + favorites” So I am assuming both the variations of retweets has been taken into consideration (Native RT & Manual RT) for the mentions rte?

    • John Clark says

      Faisal, a very good clarification. For the analysis I did it was only native RT but I would agree that counting both types would be the “most” accurate. In terms of measuring relative engagement compared to other post I would suspect how I approached it still surfaces the posts with top engagement rates. Thanks for the clarification.

  5. Rachel Berdan says

    I think these numbers are really interesting, and absolutely worth exploring. That said, I’m not sure how accurate a measure they are of actual engagement, depending on how you define it.

    I see these numbers more as confirmation of how many people saw a tweet and cared enough to indicate that they saw it (which is arguably one level of engagement). I typically think of engagement in more meaningful terms—caring enough about a brand to learn more about it, be somewhat loyal to it, and put dollars toward it (eventually, if not right away). It’s like the difference between saying “I love this/him/her/you” about everyone and everything, and saving the word for only the most special of people.

    We live in a world where so many of us love free stuff. These numbers bear that out, but I don’t know if they necessarily indicate that participants care about the brand enough to remember later. There is something of the anecdotal in my comment, of course, as I know I’m guilty of participating in both Twitter and Facebook contests for the heck of it, and not really caring about the brand in question.

    By the way, I fully agree that the Twitter contest is worth trying. I’ve also participated in contests run by brands I did (come to/already) care about. It does go both ways.

    • John Clark says

      Rachel, thanks for the great comment. I agree with your observations and wasn’t trying to suggest the value of contest to build brand loyalty. I just found it interesting based on the analysis I did on how many of the top tweets based on engagement rate (as define) were contests. Certainly no value judgement in whether those were good/loyal engagements. It is always interesting to see what makes us humans do things. As business people we need to figure out how to engage with the right ones in a quality way to build a relationship. My guess is sometimes contests can achieve that and probably many other times they do not.

  6. RhondaHurwitz says

    What would it take to get participants to do something more meaningful than RT? How can we get them to, for instance, try a new service off of Twitter? Would an entry to win an ipad be enough value to do that?

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